The battery charger is reading between 14.1 and 14.4 volts output when not connected to a battery. That seems to just leave the battery as the problem. The charger is a West Marine WC40 with a two battery bank capacity. The deep cycle batteries are about as old as I am...not quite but clearly it’s time for them to go and the bulging clearly is not a good sign. I bought a starting battery last month and upgraded it today to a 1,000 CCA West marine lead acid starting battery. Mainly I just need a something to get the engine up as running and then once the boat is in the water I’ll add new house bank batteries. It seems that I have all my pieces together and I’m ready for that big step. Friday might be the big day to fire the engine up for the first time in a long time..
Because this is a pilot house I have dual controls and because I’m not fancy they are cables. I had everything all connected but wasn’t happy with the way the throttle felt. The injector pump only has about a 1” throw while the cable and control are about 3”. So, when I’d operate the controls the handle would barely move from idle to full. As one of my loose ends before running the engine it was finally time to remedy this situation. I grabbed a piece of flat bar and sketched up my idea then cut and drilled my way to a mock-up.
The measurements were rough and I had to make an adjustment once I temporarily mounted it in place. Fabricating moving parts like this takes a lot of installing, removing and reinstalling until you get it all set. I got it to where I was happy with it at the end of the day. The throttle goes through the full motion now. Next I’ll have to finish it up by painting the pieces and then I’ll remount everything, probably two workdays until I can call this one done.
It took a lot of research and patience to figure out what kind of fuel injection pump is mounted to this engine. My Perkins 4.107/4.108 shop manual depicts two types of pumps and neither match what I'm looking at. I found the exact pump I have in Nigel Calder's book "Marine Diesel engines, 2nd edition", my favorite book right now. I bring it everywhere I go and haven't even come close to reading the whole thing yet. It describes the process for bleeding air out of the fuel line and when it gets to the part about bleeding the injector pump on page 68 there it is, the C.A.V. DPA distributor injection pump. Mine was a lot more dirty than the one in the picture but now that I can recognize what it is I've been able to make it more visible. Getting a picture of my fuel injector pump is a bit like trying to photograph big foot. All the pictures come out blurry and I was starting to think no one has ever actually seen my injector pump for real. Google how to bleed the Perkins C.A.V. pump and the advice is essentially "sell you boat and get a cabin in the woods...far away from water". These appear to be notoriously hard to bleed although simple in explanation. With that in mind it was just a matter of patience and a little bit of Diesel engine yoga before I figured out how to adjust my downward dog into a comfortable position that would allow my right hand on the lift pump and the left hand on a tool bleeding the injection pump. Two more problems after I identified the parts to the pump, I couldn't see it and I didn't have a tool (5/16" wrench) that would fit into the tiny space along with my seemingly giant hand. No problem, just install some 12v LED lights that I bought off Amazon for $15 and cut one of my wrenches in half! Below is a picture of the pump in all its glory, lit up beautifully. The two bleeder bolts are right in the middle, one above the other. The lower bleeder is mounted at a little bit of an angle as compared to the top one.
I added a lanyard to my new wrench that is going to be dedicated to bleeding the fuel line. I'm probably going to have certain tools kept in the engine compartment in custom pockets/pouches so they'll be available when needed and I'll also have them tied in to the work area so they won't go far! I've already dropped enough wrenches into the bilge and I'm trying to make retrieval not a factor. When it comes down to certain things I feel it's necessary to eliminate failure options and plan for getting the job done as efficiently as possible.
The lift pump (pictured above) is on the Starboard side of the engine and his fed from the primary fuel filter, a Racor 500FGSS filter/water separator. The fuel line then goes to the Port side remote mounted secondary filters which apparently don't have a bleeder valve and then to the Injector pump. The fuel injection is all mounted on the Port side of the engine. Bleeding the pump went really smooth once I put all the pieces into play. It took just a minute or so until I had steady fuel coming out of each bleeder bolt. Next up I need to bleed to the injectors which will require having the throttle cable connected. I disconnected it last year because it wasn't very sensitive so I'll be adding a lever into the mix to make the full throw available at the controls. That'll be one of my projects for next week, along with adding bilge pumps into the engine bilge.
I’m getting extremely close to a having a running engine! It’s been a lot of little things to get to where I’m at and the past few weeks have been a lot of punchlist items as well as troubleshooting. Today I am working on troubleshooting my weeping banjo bolts. Last week I didn’t know what a banjo bolt was and trying to get new ones proved difficult with that limited knowledge. So, here they are...banjo bolts. They’re the bolts on top of the four fuel injectors that allow excess fuel to return to the tanks via he top of the injectors.
The ones pictured above are the new banjo bolts along with the new washers. There are two washers per rail that make the seal between the bolt head, rail, and injector. Once I bled the fuel all the way to the injectors I noticed my problem, they would weep diesel and you couldn’t trighten them enough without having the threads pop causing the bolt to spin before grabbing the threads again. It seemed that the bolt wasn’t getting seated deep enough into the fuel injector and just made cranking the engine a messy and stinky endeavor! I took off the bolts and found that they were a little worn at the base of the threads. I called Foley Engines on the east coast that supplies Perkins parts and they said they had them in stock and that they are about six cents a piece. But unfortunately they wouldn't sell them individually and that I’d have to buy a fuel return rail with all four injectors as a kit which would run about $750! No thanks...next option: learn about local resources. I found the Perkins Pacific supplier down in SW Washington on my way to Portland last week and they had the washers in stock, unfortunately no banjo bolts, although they could order them and sell them individually if I asked. I found a place in Seattle called Seattle Injector Company that matched up the bolt I brought them and gave me four new ones. Yeah, they gave them to me! What an incredibly nice thing to do. I know if I ever have my injectors cleaned or serviced I'll be going there.
And, there is the problem. Notice how much bigger the copper washer on the left is? The genuine part for the Perkins 4.107 is the one on the right along with the part number, which will be very helpful in the future. The ones that were installed are at least double the thickness which would explain the threading difficulty. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the best part about going to Perkins Pacific Power in Ridgefield, WA. After literally driving to every marine engine shop in Seattle, there's a bunch, nobody could really say they knew about Perkins engines or even get me parts. They were really helpful with advice but admitted that they'd just be ordering online and marking the price up for profit. When I got to the parts counter at Perkins Pacific, Jay asked what engine I had, then after I said Perkins 4.107, he grabbed a notebook and walked to the counter. To my delight it was a Perkins 4.107 manual that included every part breakdown on every possible part you might need to repair or build that model engine. I found my go to supplier! Anyways, below is a picture of the the old banjo bolt with the old washers...
You can't even see the washers on the new setup. And, the best part is that when I crank the engine now they are completely dry and show no signs of weeping fuel! Done. Next item please....
The sea chest is mounted in the pilot house and will be accessed under the bench seat for the settee. It is used to get water for the engine cooling system. There are several fittings unused at this time that are above the waterline that will be used for bilge pumpout. One of the four 1-1/2” pipes wasn’t threaded so it has been on this years short list of projects needed to put the boat in the water.
I purchase a large ratchet pipe threader on Craigslist for $45 which included a range of heads from 3/4” to 2”, what a great deal! After a quick YouTube video instructional on how to thread pipe it was time to get down to business and thread this thing. I brought it to the boat today and was happy to see it fit perfectly on the other threaded fittings. The tool requires quite a bit of cutting oil to keep it going smooth. The initial 20 minutes spent turning the ratchet cut a bevel on the pipe. It self guided on the pipe very nicely and the ratchet proved to be a savior as I only had about 45 degrees to operate the tool. Once the threads started cutting you could really feel it grab a hold and dig in to the metal. It made beautiful shavings with each pull of the handle. I made sure to clear the shavings with a spray of oil each turn I made.
All said and done it took me about an hour which included a bunch of rest breaks, probably more resting than working to be honest. Hand threading 1-1/2” pipe is quite a workout! Glad it turned out so well and the tool worked out. $45 well spent. Special thanks to Craigslist and YouTube...and my friend Greg from work who pointed me in the right direction, thanks Greg!
I have a Groco SA1000 sea water strainer mounted between the sea chest thru hull valve and the engine water pump. When I ran water through it this week it was showing water leaks out of the top through the wing nut. I bought a gasket service kit from fisheries yesterday and took it apart today. The wing nut was stuck and once I carefully freed that I found that the top cover wouldn’t release. The old gasket was sort of holding it in place so I used my trusty mallet and screwdriver combo to gently pop it apart. The new gasket is a much different design as you can see in the pictures. Hopefully that does the trick!
I’m working on getting the engine running this week and I figured I’d run into a handful of issues. All minor and expected I guess, after sitting for literally decades. I ran some water through the cooling system and found some big leaks. The first one is just a minor leak through the sea water strainer. I bought a gasket kit from fisheries supply and will install them tomorrow, not a big deal. The big leak was at the exhaust manifold where I had water spraying out of the bolts.
After removing the 5 bolts connecting this custom fitting I was able to pull it off the manifold and discover just how custom this piece was. I was hoping for a simple fix like replacing an old worn gasket. But, the problem was more the fact that it wasn’t a flat surface that joins to the manifold. I talked to a couple machinists and they just recommended putting it in a bench vise and working down the surface with a flat file. I bought 14” flat file from Radtke Marine and they gave me some new Gardico gasket material to make a new gasket. I met a lot of great people today and was given a lot of great help which made me realize I have an incredible community here to help out.
You can see the progression of how the filing went. It was definitely a lot of work. The owner of one of the shops joked that this is what he’d make the new guys in the shop do instead of sending off to a machinist. It was very satisfying watching the metal flatten out with every stoke of the file. My triceps feel pretty tired and I have a couple new blisters on my palms, but totally worth the effort! Thanks also to Steve at the marina for letting me use his shop bench vise. It was fun talking to the guys in the shop about favorite anchorages in the San Juan islands and surrounding areas, helped the time pass by .
I bought some high heat paint on the way home that’s good up to 2,000 degrees. I’ll finish it and remount it tomorrow after I make a new gasket. Then I can also put the new gaskets on the strainer and that should take care of the leaks in the cooling system for now.
I'm back at for another season of boat work. I typically start each year with a new list of projects that keeps me busy from January to about June before other priorities take me away for the season. This year should be a satisfying year as it should finally lead to some major projects being completed. The engine is days away from being run for the first time! I have a short list of projects that will lead to the boat entering the water for the first time by about March. Then finally, the boat might get it's first chance at taking us on it's maiden voyage.
I was trying to organize my photos from over the years and I came across a couple that were fun comparison photos. The bottom photo is the cockpit from the first day I took possession of the boat and the top photo is how the cockpit looks today! Pretty fun seeing the drastic changes over the years. When I get time I would love to put together a comparison photo library, but that may just wait until the boat is a tad further along. Meanwhile, I feel positively inspired and excited to get back to work and plug away at this years list of projects....stay tuned!
Today I managed to mount the mast step. Little projects like this are easy to put off cause I get nervous drilling holes in the boat and I want to make sure things are put in the right place. Yesterday I found myself drilling ovals and had to stop to buy a new arbor for my hole saw bits. I didn't realize that it has a slight bend in the base until I started drilling with the 5/8" bit.
The other problem I ran into wasn't a huge surprise and I dealt with it pretty easy. The port side holes I drilled came down right on top of the guest stateroom bulkhead. I had to cut out notches to allow access to the bottom of the bolts. My bolts ended up being too short so I either have to use nyloc nuts or get longer bolts so I can double nut them like I had originally planned.
Here are a few images of the inside helm station with my new helm seat. It will be mounted onto the cabinet with a sliding swivel mount. Inside, you can see one of the mounting brackets. I've started painting it and I'll be installing oak slides on the inside next to accommodate drawers soon. The helm seat will be bolted down soon once I finish the rest of the rough carpentry install in the pilothouse.
Dream it. Design it. Build it. A hobbyist at heart, I'm usually asked, "Wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to just buy that?!?". Sure, but then I wouldn't understand it and appreciate it like only a do-it-your-selfer can!